Racingone On One: David Ragan

Growing up in a racing family, David Ragan started racing when he was 11 years old in the Bandoleros. Now a little over 10 years later, Ragan finds himself on the verge of making the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In this interview with RacingOne, Ragan discusses his racing career, his contract status, baseball, old cars and much more.

RacingOne: Besides your Dad, who were some of the drivers you looked up to when you were growing up?

Ragan: I was always a big Ford fan and also growing up in Georgia Bill Elliott was one of my favorite drivers. I was also a Dale Jarrett, and certainly Mark Martin and Ernie Irvan fan. I had a lot of fun watching all the Ford drivers in the 90s. It's been fun to race with a few of them and get to know some of them.

RacingOne: I saw you were with your teammates a few weeks ago at the Ford Headquarters when they took delivery of their new Ford Shelby GT500KRs. What type of cars do you own at home?

Ragan: I have some old Ford cars. I really don't have any of the supercharged new stuff that's fast. I have thought about getting some, but just haven't got around to doing it. I kind of like the older cars. I have a 1964 Fairlane that's an old Police Car and I kind of like that. It's something neat, something different. I have a 1948 Willys Army Jeep that has a flathead Ford motor in it - that's one of the neat cars I got. I recently got a 1940 Ford Coupe that is something similar to what my Grand Dad had back in the late 40s. It's stuff like that that makes them unique. Anybody can just go to a dealership and buy a new car, but I like the stuff that has some kind of sentimental value to it.

RacingOne: What is your current contract status with Roush Fenway?

Ragan: To tell you the truth. I started driving for Jack (Roush) in 2006 and he said as long as I do my job and we have sponsors we're always going to be racing. I know I have a contract and I think it's for a few more years. But I haven't even opened the first page of it and read it. He showed me where to sign and I signed it and that's how much trust I have with everyone at Roush. I think they are fair to me and I am fair to them.

RacingOne: How much did racing in the Legends Car help to where you are today?

Ragan: A lot. The Legends cars are obviously great cars for young guys to start with. They are fairly inexpensive and you don't break your Mom or Dad's bank account going racing. They are good teaching tools. They've got hard tires and are lightweight with a lot of power so they don't drive well. You really have to hustle them and that's very similar to our Car of Tomorrow.

RacingOne: Do you get to Lowe's Motor Speedway much to get back behind the wheel of a Legends car?

Ragan: I was out at Lowe's last week. I drive some and someone else drives my Legends car. I think I have three of them in my shop now that some different people race. My coach driver gets behind the wheel sometimes. It's awesome to have those race cars around. It doesn't cost you a lot to go race and you have a blast doing it.

RacingOne: What is the biggest factor in your improvement this season?

Ragan: Just learning from my mistakes, doing things smarter from last year. Everything is easier the second time around. I make better decisions. I have a sense about what's going to happen around the next corner or the next year.

RacingOne: What tracks are you looking forward to the most as you try to make the Chase?

Ragan: I'm looking forward to every one of them. I think we have been improving in every race from last year. We are going back to Chicago. We have been outstanding on the 1.5-mile tracks this year. I'm also looking forward to Indy. We have a lot of great tracks coming up where we can make some ground up.

RacingOne: What advice would you give aspiring drivers that want to reach the Sprint Cup Series?

Ragan: If you are serious about making a career of auto racing you have to dedicate your life to the sport. It's not something you can just go out and race a few times a week or race Friday or Saturday and expect your Dad, your agent or your cousins to help you out. Throughout the week you basically have to forget everything in your life and concentrate on meeting the right people and doing the right things and learning all you can about the sport. That's what I had to do. There were a lot of times when I was young that I wanted to go do some school related stuff or activities, but I know if I was going to have any kind of remote chance to making it I better go to the shop to work on my car. You just have to be dedicated and be in the right place at the right time.

RacingOne: What was the most unique encounter you have had with a fan?

Ragan: I've had a lot of unique experiences. I love interacting with the fans. I love talking to them. But probably the most interesting was I had a guy come up to me and say his name was David Ragan and it was spelled the same. He had never been a race fan before finding out there was some guy named David Ragan. Now he's pulling for us.

RacingOne: What was it like going to Fenway Park before the New Hampshire race?

Ragan: That's probably the best time outside the race track this year. To hit some balls at Fenway Park and throw out the first pitch, and just being around the atmosphere was a good time.

RacingOne: Did you throw a strike?

Ragan: I did pretty well. I got to warm up a little bit before the game. It didn't hit the dirt and it was pretty straight.

RacingOne: Are you a big baseball fan?

Ragan: I'm a big sports fan. I keep up what's going on. I was always an Atlanta Braves Fan. Growing up in the 90s that was the perfect time to be a Braves fan. I always kind of liked the Boston Red Sox because I didn't particularly care for the Yankees because they took a couple World Series from the Braves so I thought it's only perfect that I pull for the Red Sox.

RacingOne: No offense, but I'm pulling for my team, the Chicago Cubs to finally win it all this season.

Ragan: The Cubs that's been a good story just like the Red Sox were five years ago. I'm sure the Cubs' time will come.

RacingOne: It's rumored that the Nationwide Car of Tomorrow will not happen as soon as expected. Have you heard anything about the car?

Ragan: There's a little bit of talk. If the car is going to be here and if it's going to be ready to go at Daytona there needs to be someone doing more talking. We have talked about it a little bit and have asked some of the right questions, but we can't seem to get the answers. I don't know what NASCAR knows, but they usually make the right decision.

RacingOne: Running both the Nationwide and Cup Series has to be totally different. Why do it, is it just because you love to race?

Ragan: Running the Car of Tomorrow and the current Nationwide is 100% different. You really can't learn anything setup wise for the two cars. But as a young driver, I'm just learning racing, whether I'm racing an ARCA car, a truck or whatever. Just being in a race car is a good thing.

RacingOne: Roush Fenway ARCA driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just went back and raced in the World of Outlaws event at Riverside International Speedway. Would that be a series you would like to try sometime?

Ragan: I would love to get in some different race cars. I would love to get on some dirt, I don't have hardly any dirt experience. But I really need to focus on my NASCAR program now until it gets perfected and we are winning races and championships. But I would like to run some different open wheel or dirt cars to broaden my driving and experience.

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